It’s been an exciting week for growing! We got our first zucchini, swiss chard and shishito peppers. The cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes are coming in and will soon start to ripen. You can basically watch the pole beans grow with your own eyes, it’s as if they grow a few inches every day. If you haven’t heard from our Instagram, our zinnia flowers are blooming in the asparagus beds and they are beautiful!
On top of the vegetables in the garden, we have been working on constructing new concrete raised planter beds in the pollinator garden area. They will house either pollinator plants or can be used for squashes in the fall! We love our raised concrete beds in the Sullivan Memorial Garden and figured that we can reuse the concrete blocks to create new ones.
Here’s why we love our concrete raised beds:
- You don’t have to stoop down to work on the beds, they come with their own built in seats!
- Unlike wooden beds, they will never rot over time.
- Cost effective
- Less weeds overall
- Warmer soil for longer and even earlier in the season, which promotes growth.
- If you have clay soil underneath, which we do at the Sullivan Memorial Garden, the top soil you add to the raised beds provides better drainage for your plants.
Approximate Cost Breakdown for a single 9.3 feet x 4 feet bed
18 x Concrete Blocks = $20.88
1 cubic yard of top soil = $40
1 cubic feet of compost = $10
Total cost = $70.88
Premade wooden beds cost between $70 to over $250 and you still have to fill them!
Interested in creating your own? We found this video from Gardener Scott on Youtube helpful and he has useful tips for filling raised beds cheaply!
While you don’t need to meticulously level the ground you are working on before placing the blocks, it does help to level it by eyeballing it. However, we 100% recommend using a level to make sure that each block is level.
Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls by Cookie and Kate
Spring rolls are a great way to incorporate a ton of summer veggies into your meals! They are easy and fun to make with your whole family! While this recipe isn’t authentic Thai Spring Rolls, I love that it has more veggies and you don’t have to spend the money on shrimp (but you can definitely add it if you’d like!)
What’s great is that you can adjust based on dietary needs (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and nut-free).
Ingredients (makes 8 spring rolls)
- 2 ounces rice vermicelli or maifun brown rice noodles*
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup torn butter lettuce, ribs removed
- 1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
- 8 sheets rice paper (spring roll wrappers)
For the peanut sauce
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari (for gluten-free) or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed to make the texture you desire
Sauce for nut-free homes: Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 1 inch knob of ginger, minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- juice of 1 lime
1. Prepare the ingredients. thinly slice the red cabbage, peeled carrots and peeled cucumbers.
2. Cook the rice vermicilli as per directions on the box.
3. Make sure your filling ingredients (all the vegetables) are nearby
4. Fill a plate or shallow bowl with water and immerse the rice paper for a few seconds on each side and place on a flat surface. Don’t worry if it’s not pliable yet, it will as you fill it.
5. Fill the rice paper first with the lettuces to make a bed. Then rice noodles, place any “sharper” vegetables on the side of the noodles parallel to how you will roll, and then the herbs. Do not overfill or else rolling will not work.
6. Fold by first folding in the short sides like an envelope, then a long side then rolling it to finish. Try to keep it tight without breaking the sheet.*
7. Make the sauce (either peanut or sweet chili sauce, or both!) by mixing all the sauce ingredients together!
*Rolling the wraps can be quite tricky so don’t get discouraged. Biggest tip is to not overfill and not to over water. Use all of your fingers to try to keep the filling compressed as you roll.